tv Book Discussion on Madness and Memory CSPAN June 7, 2014 9:30pm-9:54pm EDT
for advice. [laughter] >> well, thank you all very much. [applause] >> c-span2, providing live coverage of the u.s. senate floor proceedings and keep public policy events and every weekend book tv now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors. c-span2, created by the cable-tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. watch in hd, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. >> next on book tv dr. stanley prusiner talking about his discovery of infectious proteins that contain no genetic material and the connection between brain
diseases like alzheimer's, als, and parkinson's. this is about 20 minutes. >> thank you for finishing up our conference. you have so leaves us with the profound message that we should take on today. a big responsibility. we were talking before, and i think we have not really talked a lot about this today, the issue of healthy aging and how that plays into our new health system, whenever it may be. we tend to focus on, you know, the more acute diseases. you and i were talking earlier how about alzheimer's. as a neurologist. >> one of the things we really
need to think about is what is aging, the simple definition is getting older. but if we try to figure out how we can retard aging, slow it down, everyone would like to do this. the big problems that people face as they get older are these terrible brain diseases. if you look at the statistics, if all of us in this room live to be 85 and we are all the same age at the same time, every other person in the room will be demented. about one-fifth of those will be frozen, and these odds a terrible. if we can escape the diseases that we have been talking about today, mainly heart disease and cancer, diabetes, obesity, if we can push those things back then we face alzheimer's and parkinson's. i think this is a huge, huge problem. we are not doing nearly enough to face this problem.
we can talk about the details a little more. >> what do you see as the kind of solutions that we should be working toward? how much work is going into this now? you know, we hear a lot about medications to treat different acute conditions. we also hear about a shortage of support for more basic research. what do you want to see happen? >> the big problem is that all of these diseases which we call narrow degenerative diseases, there is not a single drug that halts or slows one of them. so there are drugs that we can give to the ameliorate them in terms of the symptoms. a wonderful drug for parkinson's disease that in the early to middle stages, we see a vast improvement for patients, but that is a symptomatic
improvement, and i think that the example of this is john paul the second, the pope who had parkinson's. he got all of the best care. in the processing continued to go downhill. the underlying nerve degeneration continued. we have not a single drug that slows this down, including lou gehrig's disease, including football players. you were talking about the nfl earlier. these football players, soldiers . we don't know how many soldiers who have posttraumatic stress disorder struggle, but we know that some of them do. we don't have a single effective drug to stop this process. >> why is that? >> i think it is, in part, because we are just beginning to learn the causes of these diseases.
we thought for a long time that we understood them, but in the last five years your senior dramatic change. we think now that each one of these proteins, an alternative should this house should approaching stimulus more. that is at the root. it's never sure, that's the number that's out there. the pipeline, as most people at this conference know is filled with anti-cancer drugs. sixers 700. and alzheimer's disease, we are
spending 500 billion, one-tenth for the research it goes on. in part that is because alzheimer's disease was not even listed as the cause of death by the cdc until 1978. in fact, it was not thought to be a disease. it was about to be a condition of old age. now we know that the number is much higher than we ever thought the cdc finally came to a number of 80,000. some very interesting epidemiological studies, when none of the number is 500,000 that the cost to society is about 200 billion annually, the same as cancer. >> i was telling you earlier, i was speaking to our young students who was working on research on lou gehrig's disease
i was excited to hear about is work. i said to him, you're going to become a neurologist. he said to me really seriously, no, i just want the patent. brain researcher. what does that say to you? are no neurology, it is a difficult field in terms of the emotional content. but part of that is that there is not a lot to offer patients right now. >> we have improved hermetically this is much better. we have improved with seizures. we have lots of medication for seizures. if we put neurology and psychology together we have a lot of much better trucks. i have to say, there are still diseases for which we have nothing or very little. yes, it is depressing.
of course als or lou gehrig's is one of these diseases. that is another one of these narrow degenerative diseases that we don't even know how to slow down the disease. it is depressing, with that kind of comment, to me, is very depressing. >> it is depressing to me because all of us in this room, if we were lucky, will be 85 and may well be among that, you know, have that is not likely to have all our facilities about us . the fact that there is this huge need and demand and our market is not being met as there are dozens of cancer drugs coming out is depressing. >> that is depressing, but unfortunately -- i did not go into medicine to get wealthy. i went into medicine because i found it fascinating and wanted to do something that i thought was really great social value.
when i hear those kinds of stories i don't get too excited. in fact, i get a little depressed. >> let's talk a little bit about the affordable care act and what is affordable for patients. i know, you know, you and i both, you know, started madison in an era when things or not that expensive and cost was not prohibitive. now for a lot of people it is, even with the affordable care act. south. >> i think two things. let me start off by talking about alzheimer's disease in the affordable care act. half of all nursing home beds in america are filled with alzheimer's. half of those are cognitively impaired. we are putting immense amounts of money into taking care of these people. and then, as i said to you, when you add up all the costs of taking care of these people plus
all the ones are being cared for by their loved ones that can no longer go to work, the cost is 200 billion. so these kinds of diseases we need to do something about. cancer is 200 billion. if we did not have all of these cancer drugs the numbers would be 400 billion. i think that this is just such an important area where there is no substitute for research. that is going to make the difference. i think everyone in this room has a slightly different view of the affordable care act and what it means. my own personal view is that for a long, long time we have needed major health reform and have not had it. and the idea that it -- that health care should not be accessible to all people, talking about the fact that i have a nephew with juvenile
diabetes. should this young man he does not want to work for a big corporation, who wants to be a shakespeare theatre director and will never have a secure job, that's for sure. >> but i will always admire him. >> but this poor young man, how is he going to have health insurance? well, i was talking to one of my friends, a titan of industry and a multimillionaire many times over. and i explained all of this to him because i was expecting some sympathetic response. he said, well, that is his problem. so we are all in this together as a i think. that is one of the really great things about america. we have come together happen.
>> everyone wants that a modification. but over time this is all going to get massages and reworks. but it seems to me that it was really time grows to be -- at least making health care available to people who wanted it. >> andy fink their is a sense -- to use the example you brought up, type one diabetes, the out-of-pocket costs are huge. is there a sense that there are some diseases where we really should just cover people, not expect them to bear the cost? >> so we are doing now is getting into areas that i am not experts. after you win a nobel prize people think that you know everything. one of the smartest things i ever did after winning a nobel
prize was a start telling people i was not an expert. so now i'm telling you that. >> are there any promising treatments uc for all signs were parkinsons'? anything you have your eye on? >> not at the moment. i think the pipeline is empty. it is truly anti. we will see drugs over the next five years. >> do you think it will be developed in this country? >> now i know something. very egotistical. if you look at this building going to the east and you look to the left, there's a new building there. and then new building where developing drugs. we recently put together collaboration with a japanese drug companies. so i'm very optimistic now.
this is a huge step forward, and we need ten more these around the world. >> why aren't there more? we spend so much money on last year of life, particularly the last month of life, but we don't really feel very well with diseases of the elderly. i mean, people are going to live a long time. >> i think, you know, we are just beginning to get to a point where people can see that drugs can be made. the problem is that industry is much more comfortable. so while there were models for cancer a hundred years ago, take a tumor and it is proliferating in a cell culture dish were proliferating in an animal a lie is only recently that we are beginning to understand these diseases. i think we will see more of this
in the next few years. i think it will open out and we will begin to see these university-big farmer relationships that we will focus on. >> and is there reason you partner in with a japanese drug maker, or is it just that you find a difference between the u.s.-based drug makers and the international ones? >> we did not show up. and because my colleague, david ramsey, president of the university of maryland for many years, many relationships with japanese big farm, we ended up with one of those coming to us. they can to us. so we just went with that. we did not go shopping. >> do you have a sense? one thing we're trying to figure out this ridiculously in light of the last panel, when farmers
as we have to charge that much because developing a new drug, developing a new vaccine can cause close to a billion dollars , do you buy that? and is it research they are doing or research that they are slowly pulling out? >> i think it is a combination of all the above. i know some of the people. i don't think there are quite as awful as they are being painted. i understand why. the research costs are enormous. that's very clear. their research costs are only a fraction of the total research costs. the total research costs are probably ten times and more. a lot of this work on hepatitis that has been done of the last 30 years of very large fraction
funded by the u.s. government. so i think we're just beginning to see the fruits of that. i think this drug is fantastic. again, because i didn't get a nobel prize in economic and nagasaki will weather this is capitalism and access or whether this is normal couple's. i think that's going to be a huge debate. >> issued say, i meant to say of the last panel, we invited someone from former becomes beat >> you can't win. >> but think it is useful to hear an explanation let's hear
what -- why. >> can you think more companies around the world have already answered this fray and are working frantically. if you can have viagra and ms. copies of the mayors of small when you can be sure that there will be more copycats which we hear that there are some coming to market. as we have seen, copycat drugs don't necessarily bring down the price. especially with these big numbers. we will see. i hope you're right. more than that my hope -- i think one of the most challenging problems for health
care system is this issue of aging and arab generative disease. it is one and i think has seemed more refractory. regardless of the money. we don't have a good model. the nursing home, the idea of half the patients in nursing home being there with dementia, is there another model you can't think of? have you thought about that? one that does not involve a hospital setting? >> i was talking with some people at a foundation recently. we were talking about, what would the world be like? we now have drugs that actually work, that prevent dementia, the prudent use movement disorders that we see. and then what will it be like? and, i think, first of all, will this happen? the answer is yes.
we are beginning to understand these diseases and how they happen and what happens. so when people say to me, do you really think it will be a drug? it is fascinating. i say, of course. how can that be? this is just inevitable. i tell them, no, these are diseases. you will eventually conquered and. at that point we will see other issues. this is part of the will of people to live. that is an enormous driver and wanting to live longer and enjoy life. i think the great thing is that there are enough people who have the view and are willing to push this and all levels of our society. >> i often wonder why there is
an more pressure. i lifted the early days of aids. it was impressive. and i was a resident in 1986 and was inconceivable but there would be interested tree this disease who how half. >> the thing that's right. what people don't appreciate his the richard nixon was the biggest driver of a cure because when he doubled the budget of the things they did was spend a lot of money on non a two-hour viruses my brothers and sisters of the aids virus.
of the research and development is live with the foundation for relatively small investment. now there dying of aids every year to readers of putting 3 billion in. alzheimer's, we're still putting 500 million. we need to realize how lucky this. >> i appreciate it. a last words of wisdom. >> i just want to express my thanks to the new york times. i also want to put in a plug for my book i hope he will buy to and. i am trying to sell as many books and sylmar quinlan hot.